Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach; A Review of The Hotel/Resort We Stood At

When booking our trip to Grand Bahama Island, I was so nervous to book a hotel because I did not know what hotel would be best for us.
After searching around endlessly, and changing my mind every other minute, I finally decided that Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach would be the best resort for our needs.

Not only did this resort boast about a beautiful reef just a few feet from shore, but it was also all inclusive; which meant drinks, food, taxes, and booze were all included in the price.

Although I knew nothing about the island at the time, I took my chances with the resort; and let me tell you...we were not disappointed.

We booked for late September, early October so the price was exceptionally low for the off season months. The total came to $798 per person in 2008 for a 5 night stay.

On arrival I fell in love. I had such low expectations because over at TripAdvisor many were complaining about how horrible the resort was.
I was immediately drawn to the tropical mini garden they had going on at the entrance of the building.
After taking in the outside entrance of the Viva Wyndham, I then walked inside through the opened wooden doors where I was greeted by a doorman who took my luggage and left it in the middle of the floor till we were assigned a room.
While waiting for the front desk to assign us key cards the doorman then handed us a nice cool Bahama Mamma as a greeting drink. He had a large sincere smile on his face, and even though he must have been sweating his rear end off in the suit he had to wear, he never broke his smile.

Once we got our key cards, and were given our resort bracelet's, the doorman then took our luggage and showed us to our room.

We took a slow stroll around the walkways of the resort while on our way where the doorman told us where we could find the restaurant's, pool, dive shop, and other activity centers located in the resort.

We walked past the bar which was also the home of a pool table, a ping pong table, a fools ball table, and a large outdoor chess set.

(Photo of pool area)

Immediately my eyes were drawn to a large trapeze that was located on the resort! The thing was huge, and although I was deathly afraid of heights, there was no way I was going home without at least trying it out...(or at least watching my boyfriend try it out. Hehe!)

The pool was gigantic, and located in the pool area there was a nice large stone jacuzzi which was located up a small set of stairs. The jacuzzi was surrounded with all sorts of large tropical plants making the area seem like a nice private cut off little cove. It was simply stunning.
Lounge chairs are lined around the pool as well. You can walk from the pool area out to the beach if you'd like. The views are gorgeous.

On the way to the room I also spotted a bunch of curly tailed lizards and gecko's. The area also was home to some gorgeous tropical flowers, and a large tree that grew some sort of interesting looking fruit.

After strolling through the resort and getting a feel for the place, we were taken to our room. My heart sunk because I thought they had made a huge mistake. I paid extra for an ocean view room.

However the doorman raced ahead of me, and pulled away the curtains.

And there it was...

(Views from our balcony second level room)

The dream vacation I had dreamt since childhood. Outside of our sliding glass door balcony stood an ocean so beautiful, so captivating...so glorious, that I had to pinch myself. This had to be a dream, this could not be real!

Yet there it was, no dream, no illusion. The white powdery sands were there, the palm trees with actual coconuts, all there, the tiki umbrellas, all there, the lounge chairs, the sun, a sky of blue like I'd never seen before. Even the clouds seemed fuller and fluffier here. Brighter and more beautiful than where I am from.

I didn't focus much on the room. I could care less about the room. I could literately be standing in a flooded room and I could care less...so long as this beach were here for the taking I could care less about anything.

For those interested in the actual resort though, our room was a second level ocean view. In the room there were two comfortable queen sized beds, a lamp, central air conditioning that worked like a charm, a TV set, dresser, full sized bathroom, a desk, wall plugs, a coffee pot, a mini fridge, a safe, a large nightstand, a phone, and of course a bible in a draw!

Everything that we would need for the week was provided. I couldn't have been happier.

Food is served in 3 different restaurant's. The Junkanoo, The Bamboo, and La Trattoria. The Bamboo serves Oriental foods, while La Trattoria serves Italian.

The Junkanoo was my all time favorite place to eat. It is large, and set up in a salad bar type theme.

The food was changed up every day with cuisine themes to go along with them. Italian food, oriental, etc etc... deserts were always plentiful and delicious, and breakfast at the Junkanoo was my absolute favorite. Just thinking about the egg omelets the cook whipped up every morning makes me drool.

Everything from scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausages, and bacon were all served every morning. Normally I am not a breakfast person, but the delights I had to chose from every morning enticed me to get up earlier to enjoy them.

The 2 other restaurant's need reservations. In order to make reservations you simply go up to the resorts front desk, where you chose a time, and are given a reservation slip.

Although it was fun, I found having to do reservations a bit annoying. The food at these restaurant's were good, the menus were interesting and plentiful, but I actually enjoyed the Jukanoo best.

There is another snack bar located on the right hand side of the beach where you can walk up and order fries, burgers, soda, chicken nuggets and so on. The food here was delicious, and served fresh right in front of us.

Late at night if you were feeling hungry and the restaurant's were closed you could walk over to the very far right of the resort and order yourself a pizza. The pizza was awesome, and another favorite of ours.

Remember all of the food is included. We did however leave tips which I know the employees appreciated.

The only minor set back when it came to the resort was that if you were not a Wyndham By Request member they did not fill your fridge with drinks. You had to walk down to the on site deli to buy your own. I found this annoying because I was a member, however seeing that I did not book directly with the hotel (I used Travelocity) I could not be rewarded drinks in the fridge daily.

Some of the drinks sold in the deli though are very interesting indeed!!

The activities you can do right on the beach include snorkeling, wind surfing, and kayaking. You can rent a wave runner for an additional fee.

We brought our own snorkel gear. I recommend anyone going to ANY hotel or resort on Grand Bahama Island do the same. Some places charge a rental fee. If you have your own gear you skip the fee!

We skipped on wind surfing, but we did take a kayak out for about an hour to just paddle along the shores. It was wonderful; there is no other way to put it.

Snorkeling was fantastic. There were many, many clusters of reefs located just a few feet from shore of the resort. The reefs are teaming with life. Fish in every shape, size, and color could be found here.

The larger reef is marked off by a white floating barrel buoy, making it easy to find.

If you go outside of the roped off swim/snorkel area keep to the left and don't go all too deep because a wave runner may pass through. I would recommend bringing a small floating buoy flag and attach it to your body so it floats above while you swim. You can buy these buoy flags online. They are brightly colored and read 'diver below'. Although it will likely not be an issue, it's best to be safe than sorry right?

To the left there are many clusters of reefs that house different tropical fish that the reefs at the Wyndham don't have. These fish are more solitary and like hiding. They can all be found though to the left!!! Don't miss it!

If you really are in for a long snorkel tour of your own, if you continue snorkeling or walk the beach to the far left you will come across a snack bar on the beach where you can purchase Bahamian lobster, fried conch, and other foods that the resort does not have. The food here is cheap, delicious and fresh! I highly recommend you take the walk, or snorkel down to enjoy some delicious Bahamian food. I only with I could remember the name of it!!!

Anyway, back to the resort.

The beach is simply lovely at the Wyndham. There are blue lounge chairs all nicely lined up in rows at the shore. The chairs though are spaced as to where you have plenty of privacy. Some lounge chairs are placed under coconut trees for natural shading, others come with tiki umbrellas, and some are placed right out in the sun for serious bathers.

Getting a chair was never an issue. We woke up at around 9am everyday, and never had a problem getting a plot of our own. We could leave our sandals, towels, and smokes all on the loungers and no one dared tough our belongings. We however went on the off season months, so crowds were never ever an issue! The place was pretty much all ours with the exception of a few others, the place was relaxing, quite, and very private. Just a wonderful place to kick back and rejuvenate the soul.

There are also plenty of activities to take part in at the resort. There was a dance show one night while we were there.

There is a kiddie club for kids, a dive shop where you can book diving and snorkeling excursions.

If you don't know the island all that well, you can ask the front desk for help on booking excursions outside of the resort. They will provide you with a binder that is loaded with all sorts of excursions outside of the resort to enjoy.


Transportation waits right outside 247. If you need to take a cab somewhere outside of the resort, you don't have to worry at all about the cab arriving late. There is usually one waiting there at all times, and you will not wait long periods of time for one to pull up to the resort.

We had one female cabbie that was an absoulte doll. Not only did she stop off at a canal for us to take photos, she took photos of us! She also filled us in on some not to miss locations. We ended up calling her for every cab ride we needed because we both fell in love with her larger than life bubbly personality.

Seriously if you just take the time to get to know the locals, you'll go home missing them. They have a lot of infomration to share on the island, the lifestyles, and the places not to be missed!

One cabbie even invited us along to a fish fry that was happening that evening. Unfortunatley it was out last day on the island so we couldn't attend.

Cleanliness of Resort:

Not once did we ever experince anything negative in regards to cleanliness that I had read on some 1 star rated reviews on TripAdvisor (about the place being dirty)!

The resort was always clean, and our room was cleaned throughly everyday. We tracked sand into our room everyday, and when we got back to the room at around 7pm, no traces of sand were present, beds were always made up neatly, and the bathroom would be cleaned daily.

We did experinced a few issues while staying our full 5 days. During one of the days they forgot to give us new coffee packets. It annoyed me, but I was able to walk down to the Junkanoo and pick up some that are always located there.


The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort was spectacular all in all. I could not have wished for a better place to stay at while on the island, and it's a resort I highly recommend. It is a low key place, with a smooth atmosphere, a friendly staff, and it was just an all around great time. If you are used to all out pampering though this place just may not be for you. This resort is for people looking to stay in a gorgeous resort without all of the yuppiefied commerical amnmeties. This resort does not charge a lot, all is included, and frankly I don't think we could have done better!

I Can't Take it Anymore!!! I'm Heading Back!

I just figured out how to use Google Analytics. This program pretty much gives you an idea on where all of your traffic to your site is coming from; how many clicks, and average time spent on site.

I was excited to learn that not only people from the USA were frequenting this site, but residents from the Bahama's were stopping in as well!

Anyway, I figured I would inform all of you that I am taking yet another trip to Grand Bahama Island this year. We loved the last hotel we stayed in so much, we deiced to head back.

We of course are going to visit Lucayan National Park/Gold Rock Beach again; however we will be doing a few new excursions that we didn't know about such as taking a boat ride to Sandy Cay, aka Gilligan's Island. We will also be taking an hover air boat ride, and we're going to explore some of the Cays that we missed during our last visit.

I'm beyond excited about the boat ride out to Sandy Cay/Gilligan's Island. I stumbled upon a website that was offering tours to Gilligan's Island. I wish I would have known about this tour sooner, but thankfully I found it this round and will be sure not to miss it!

You can book a tour to Gilligan's Island at www.smilingpat.com.

I am hoping that the tour is running when we visit this upcoming September. I sent the site an email, but have yet to hear back. I'll likely call the number on the site before I book my vacation, so I'm not all too concerned. Even if the tour is not running, I'll find another way to get to Sandy Cay; there is no way I can miss it!!!

If you want a photo of Sandy Cay, click here. It is simply spectacular isn't it?

Man I'm drooling just thinking about it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Favorite Sighting

Although spotting a Sharp Tail Eel was phenomenal, my favorite run in was one of the most unexpected sights.

I was swimming along the coast right outside of our resorts doors, about 10 feet off the shoreline, and in about 3 feet of water I found myself drifting right on top of a Barracuda!!!

I panicked and didn't know what to do. I knew swimming away like a frantic idiot would only cause the Barracuda aggravation, so I began to swim backwards using my flippers very slowly.

As I swam away, I took a very decent shot of the Barracuda. It barely even seemed to care that I was there. Here is what I caught though. I think it came out pretty damn good!
Just look at that beauty!!! When I have the time, I will clean this photo up in photoshop and re-post it for better viewing.

Dolphins at Unexo, Grand Bahama Island, Flipping Video!

Dolphin Moonwalking at Unexo, Grand Bahama Island Video

Stingray Right Off Shore at Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach; Video

Puffer Fish That Lives In The Larger Reef At Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach

Beautiful Video Of Fish At Reef on Grand Bahamas Island